The LHC Could Spell Doomsday in 9 days! (Oh Please, Not Again!)

Big science at the LHC (Credit: <a href='http://qrczaq.blogspot.com/'>Qrczaq</a>)
Big science at the LHC (Credit: QrczaQ)

…actually, it’s 50 days until the first particle collisions, but who’s counting?

Right, this is officially the last Astroengine.com article I will write about the fear surrounding the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. All future articles will be consumed by the stunning science being carried out at this historic facility near Geneva in Switzerland. I realised months ago that scientists are on a losing battle when it comes to using scientific reasoning to quell the misinformation being communicated about what the LHC can do. Firstly, micro black holes will most likely not be produced (and besides, if they are, they will only live for an infinitesimally short period of time). Secondly, stranglets and magnetic monopoles have a vanishingly small chance of even existing in theoretical physics (they are speculative at best), let alone the nigh-on impossible event any man-made experiment could ever generate them. They are hypothetical particles.

To put the probability of the LHC creating a doomsday scenario into perspective, there is a better probability that a) all the air in my office will spontaneously drift to the other side of the room, leaving me to suffocate; b) I will spontaneously disappear as every single subatomic particle in my body decides to return their energy to the vacuum, or c) our four-dimensional space (three spatial and one temporal) will instantaneously become more “space-like,” freezing us in a strange new Universe where nothing happens (sorry, I’m getting a little carried away now). The point I am trying to make is that there is a higher risk of something “strange” happening to us in the “real world” than there is of something “strange” happening to the entire planet after being triggered by the LHC…

Still, the LHC lawsuit grumbles on and the media is still reporting silly science needlessly worrying people, distracting them from what the LHC is really going to do: revolutionize science.

Now brace yourselves for the best LHC headline yet to be reported by any news website: Large Haudron Collider could spell doomsday for Earth in nine days! (yes, I can see “Hadron” was lost in translation somewhere along the line). I have no clue if this Indian news website is a reputable source, but as I’ve previously investigated, attention-seeking headlines and poorly informed articles can be very damaging and irresponsible.

Basically, the gist of the News Track India is that when the LHC goes online in 9 days (September 10th), will produce a black hole, swallowing Earth:

Some scientists are trying to stop the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) from going into operation in nine days, saying that it might create black holes which could destroy the world. News Track India

By “scientists” the report quotes only one scientist, Professor Otto Rössler, a staunch LHC critic who believes that not enough research has been done into the possible damaging side effects of the high energy collisions in the particle accelerator. He is also a biochemist and not a particle physicist (let’s take a moment to think about that…). This news was obviously stirred up by a resurgence in the “LHC Lawsuit” headed by Walter Wagner, who set out to sue the US partners of CERN and the LHC after filing lawsuit at a Hawaiian court in March. On writing the Universe Today article about the lawsuit, I thought it was a minor curiosity, I never thought I’d hear about it again, but it just kept on coming (I even had the great chance to debate the issue with Walter on Paranormal Radio in July).

Now a group of scientists, led by Rössler, have lodged a suit to the European Court of Human Rights citing that the LHC poses a danger to the unknowing European citizens.

This time they have a new mystery phenomenon that the LHC could produce: a bosenova. Apart from sounding like a Brazilian music style, a bosenova (not bossa nova) is an event induced in a Bose–Einstein condensate (BEC), altering the magnetic field in which the BEC is located. The result is an implosion and then possible tiny explosion. Although a bosenova sounds fun, there is absolutely no experimental or observational evidence of such an event I doubt the delicate conditions required to produce one could possibly be attained inside the LHC. [Paragraph corrected after it was pointed out that there was in fact experimental observations of a bosenova, apologies for the inaccuracy. However, I would argue that although there is actually some credence behind bosenovas (which is more than can be said for stranglets), there is little understanding about how they are generated in the first place. Just because we’re not sure what they are, doesn’t mean that the LHC will generate them. Is there anything the LHC won’t produce? – update on Sept. 3rd]

So the fear mongers are still out there, exciting the world media, and I doubt we’ve heard the last of them. Even after the first official injection of protons into the LHC on September 10th and then the first official collisions on October 21st, they will still be here making some noise. But the point is, the LHC is safe, and there is no risk of global destruction from any one of the hypothetical phenomena Wagner, Rössler et al. continue to dream up. But as the LHC is powered up and we start probing the very nature of space time, possibly uncovering the last great mysteries of the Standard Model in quantum physics, the doomsayers will begin to quieten. Then we can enjoy the results to come out of the biggest experiment ever devised by mankind and see the accelerated evolution of physics understanding on a whole new level…

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22 thoughts on “The LHC Could Spell Doomsday in 9 days! (Oh Please, Not Again!)”

  1. wtf? why do they need to do this the world is fine as it if they swich this thing on its either going to do nothing or destroy us all i think its a stupid idea and whoever is going to switch it on should be killed

  2. I support the people, dedicating their lives to science, those going to the final frontier, and answering questions that have left us all guessing – until now.

    I’d rather that all who opposed to going further should really get swallowed up in a black hole. They’d not even be here if it weren’t for the great scientists who created, explained and provided the very things they need to live today.

    They probably think the car dropped down from the skies right on to their driveway… or electricity just comes out of nowhere…

  3. do people even read the article? its not going to “do nothing or destroy us all” its going to do something but that won’t be destroying the planet. why do people read an article on why it won’t destroy the planet, then go on to leave a comment saying it will do nothing or destroy us like its some sort of fact?

  4. sorry to but in the convo but im very into the doomsday project and i believe i have psyic powers, a 6th sense and i have dreams and visions of the doomsday and i could see it coming faster than 2012, this has to be stopped as if i never wrote this message we will be doomed,
    everyone says im insane but i know what im talking about……
    the world will notice a high increase in alien, ufo activity within the next nine days as they will want our technolgy trust me its coming sooner than anyone thinks

  5. Unfortunately, Ian, we can expect to see LHC doomsday hysteria echoed in the popular press for some time yet. I predict that someone in the popular press will read a bit of the extremely speculative paper by R. Plaga [arXiv:0808.1415v1 [hep-ph] 10 Aug 2008 “On the potential catastrophic risk from metastable quantum-black holes produced at particle colliders”] and immediately screech something about the end of CERN, the world, or worse. They will, of course, fail to read or understand the rebuttal by Steven B. Giddingsa and Michelangelo L. Manganob [arXiv:0808.4087v1 [hep-ph] 29 Aug 2008 “Comments on claimed risk from metastable black holes”]

  6. Now Dr. O’Neill, who has their facts straight?

    You write “Although a bosenova sounds fun, there is absolutely no experimental or observational evidence of such an event.”

    Apparently you have not read the 2001 Nobel Lecture by Dr. Eric A. Cornell and Dr. Carl E. Wieman[1] or the NIST article: Implosion and explosion of a Bose-Einstein condensate “Bosenova”[2] or my article “Collider Incidents”[3].

    There appears to be a difference of opinion as to the amount of shrinkage. At least one MIT paper argues the shrinkage is rather significant “…local collapse to a state of infinite density.”[4]

    Wikipedia article “bosenova”:

    “In the particular experiment when a bosenova was first detected, this procedure caused the BEC to implode and shrink beyond detection, and then suddenly explode. In this explosion, about half of the atoms in the condensate seem to have disappeared from the experiment altogether, remaining undetected either in the cold particle remnants or in the expanding gas cloud produced.” [5]

    [1] http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/2001/cornellwieman-lecture.pdf BOSE-EINSTEIN CONDENSATION IN A DILUTE GAS; THE FIRST 70 YEARS AND SOME RECENT EXPERIMENTS (2001)
    [2] http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/bosenova.htm Implosion and explosion of a Bose-Einstein condensate “Bosenova” (2001)
    [3] http://www.lhcfacts.org/?cat=19 Collider Incidents, JTankers (2008)
    [4] http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/cond-mat/pdf/9908/9908229v1.pdf Instability of a Bose-Einstein Condensate with Attractive Interaction, MIT (2008)
    [5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bosenova Bosenova, Wikipedia (2008)

  7. Thank you JTankers for the correction. I have found it very interesting to read about bosenovas, I appreciate the material and updated my post accordingly.

    I don’t think it really changes the point of my article though. Is there any dangerous quantum phenomenon that the LHC isn’t predicted to generate from your point of view? I must admit, it’s sounding like a doomsday free-for-all at the moment. So far we have bosenovas, stranglets, black holes, magnetic monopoles and vacuum bubbles; is there any other unlikely (and they are all highly unlikely, nigh-on impossible) event likely to spawn the end of the Earth?

    Remember, the above article is my opinion, please don’t go pasting select quotes across discussion forums to support your cause. I appreciate your spirit, but I don’t appreciate my opinion being used to belittle the science behind the LHC. I may be a physicist, but I’m not endorsed by CERN! (Although I wish I was.)

    Cheers, Ian

  8. No problem. Unfortunately I think many physicists are reluctant to criticize CERN, not a healthy career move.

    Fortunately Reuters picked up the LHC Safety issue[1][2], I am hopeful this will help reach a wider audience while there may still be time to pressure CERN to accept Physics PHD Dr. Rainer Plaga’s feasible safety mitigation proposals.[3]

    [1] http://www.reuters.com/news/science Reuters Front Page
    [2] http://www.reuters.com/article/blogBurst/science?type=scienceNews&w1=B7ovpm21IaDoL40ZFnNfGe&w2=B80EKKDZW7XjzuNGrifTUKY&src=blogBurst_scienceNews&bbPostId=CzBG32ltMqvaMCzELWDPagwNkhB2bH3utUpdrGBDAjeMDktHfu&bbParentWidgetId=B80EKKDZW7XjzuNGrifTUKY Reuters Article “Stop CERN Euro Court Action Slips And Slides Forward” by Alan Gillis (Sep 1, 2008)
    [3] http://arxiv.org/abs/0808.1415 On the potential catastrophic risk from metastable quantum-black holes produced at particle colliders — R. Plaga (10 Aug 2008)

  9. I would like to ask for a big round of a plause to Daryl Dean for intriguing us in sarcasm. Pardon my spelling, its a tiny but late. But seriously, why on earth would we think it’s a doomsday device? I’m not a scientist myself but i’m pretty sure that atoms (like the one they are doing) has been happening in the atmosphere, and by the doing this is just recreating it.

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